The First Purge: A Mainstream Review
I LOVE movies. I even really, really like BAD movies. Hell, I love bad horror movies and have seen some real shitpiles. (Ever try and sit through “You Can’t Kill Stephen King?”)
That said, I can’t remember hating four hours (at least that’s how long it seemed) half as much as I hated tonight’s viewing of The First Purge. This is partially my fault of course. I chose to see The First Purge and to steal a line from a great film, what do you expect from a pig but a grunt.
The Purge was a mildly disappointing home invasion thriller with a rather interesting premise. The movie may have been standard fare, but the post flick coffee and pie chatter was pretty cool. What would happen to society if all crime were legal for half day? What crime would you commit? How far would you go? Would our better angels prevail? Would it serve as catharsis? At least it gave us something to talk about.
The Purge Anarchy was standard ultra violent action with slightly more interesting kill methods. It was rather like the Saw franchise with less to talk about and more creative ways to kill. It even tried to piggyback a bit on the best of the Eli Roth shocked us with in Hostel. Not great. Not even good, but watchable.
The Purge Election Year was crap. Campy, feel good revenge crap, but still crap. It took the original idea and turned into a drummed up campaign slogan with cartoon violence, ridiculous kill scenes and absolutely zero motivation. They killed the franchise off with a double barrell shot of homophobia and ImWithHer fan fic.
But no, like the Wayans Brothers or any character on Walking Dead, this fucking thing just won’t die. The First Purge was clearly a cashgrab hoping to steal a few bucks from the wheezing corpse of the original idea.
The First Purge is badly directed, poorly acted and horribly written. The special effects are laughable. The action sequences impossible to look at without thinking “wow, that Skyscraper movie looks really good for a documentary.” There it nothing good about it, but plenty of bad.
Though they had mostly killed the most interesting part of the franchise, this one just blows it up and pissed on it. The original idea played on the idea that humans are inherently violent, prone to petty squabbles that are only kept from becoming ritualistic killings by thin lines of polite society, spiritual tenants (or religious dogma whichever you prefer) and a thin blue line of law and order. And that if those were taken away and all punishment removed, that we would (at least many of us) dive headlong into a night of murder and mayhem. That our pent up rage, jealousy and primal urges would all come out and we would find ourselves forced to run, hide, fight for our lives or go on the offensive. With this fourth film, the creative took that idea and basically said. Nah, with no laws and full immunity, almost every person would huddle together in church playing board games. That the most violent drug kingpins of our worst neighborhoods would chill out and protect their money, their drugs and chicks they banged a decade ago rather than using the free pass to wipe out the competition, cuz you know….murderer with the heart of gold and all. That only insane crackheads and bag ladies would sign up to kill and even then, only if the evil Government paid them to go on murder sprees in the middle of happy go lucky murder night parties.
But wait, there’s more. When the good people of these impoverished neighborhoods don’t start killing (Other than a few would be kingpins and the aforementioned nutters) that same Government decides to cook the books. That’s right, they force people to go kill. But not just any people. Soldiers and mercenaries. In big black SUVs and military vehicles. In full military riot gear. And these teams of thrill kill squads, yeah they are the only white people in within 100 miles. So the plan was for the scary Government to send in troops in battle gear (and klan hoods, honest to God) armed to the teeth to assassinate everyone in order to trick the populous into believing that everyone needed to purge. And they did this with everything on camera and every citizen armed with a cell phone? THIS is their secret plan? Honestly it is too stupid to even consider.
There are plot holes a mile wide in this movie, but listing them would be as pointless as pointing out the insanely racist moments or daring to mention that the whole third act could be literally blown to shit if just one of the highly trained mercenaries in the kill squad had thought to toss a single grenade down a hallway.
It would be super easy to wrap this up by pointing out that I have spent more time writing this one-take rant than the script writers did writing the whole script. It would be easy to call it a choppy, horribly paced pile of shit with movie of the week acting and 1980s green screen scenes. Or to simply call The First Purge one of the worst movies and probably the second most racist film I have seen in my life.
That would be easy, but let’s try and be creative.
I once read a review of the 80s action flick “Red Dawn” that called the film “fascist paranoid propaganda.” To steal from that I can accurately call The First Purge “Racist Social Justice Warrior masturbation material.” And you know how much I love good masturbation material.